Unboxing SAVANNAH, GA – Hurricanes, Gators, and Ghosts

Karin Carr, Owner
Published on December 13, 2021

Does Savannah, GA have alligators? Do we fry all our food? Do we get hit with hurricanes every single year? I’m going to answer all these questions and more because today I’m unboxing Savannah.

Savannah, GA has a string of islands that lead out to the ocean and Tybee Island is where the beach is. I’m not gonna lie, the ocean is one of the main reasons I chose to relocate to Savannah. (Yeah, yeah, okay, my parents live here too, but let’s be honest, the beach is much more exciting.)

Being able to live by the beach is very appealing, but because we are on the ocean, we are more susceptible to hurricanes. However, we’ve been very lucky and we have not had severe hurricanes very frequently.

According to hurricanecity.com, Hurricane Irene hit in 1999, and then the next big hurricane wasn’t until 2016 with Hurricane Matthew. My parents live on one of the islands and they lost power for a week, so they did have to toss all of the food in their fridge. They had a lot of trees fall in the area, which took out power lines, it damaged people’s roofs. And there was flooding in the low lying areas. Then Hurricane Irma came in 2017, but it was far less severe than Matthew. That’s only three hurricanes in the last 22 years. So is it a risk? Yes, but most of the time we just get a lot of wind and rain.

What about frying all of the food? Okay, this is kind of true. People here in Savannah, GA love them some good fried oysters, fried shrimp, fried clams. If fried crab were a thing, they’d probably fry that too. But there are plenty of places that roast their seafood. They steam it, they grill it, they saute it.

Low Country Boil is huge here, and this is where all of the seafood is thrown in a giant pot with a ton of seasoning like Old Bay Seasoning. Corn and sausage are added, they boil it all together and they dump it out on a giant platter. Shrimp and grits is also on the menu of just about every seafood or southern restaurant in town. And not only is it not fried, it’s… AMAZING!

In fact, I did a whole video on my five favorite places to get shrimp and grits in the Savannah area. So check this one out, popping on your screen next. Oyster roasts are always a really fun thing to do here. Now, personally, I do not care for oysters on the half shell. The texture kind of grosses me out, but roasted oysters are amazing. Did you know that oysters are only available in the months that have an R in them? That means that you will not find oysters from May through August, but fall, winter, and spring are the perfect time to find oysters.

Lots of restaurants and festivals will do oyster roasts, where they put the oysters on a grill and then they cover them up with like a wet burlap sack. They kind of get grilled and steamed at the same time. It’s a lot of fun and they truly are delicious, but it is a pain in the neck to open one oyster, let alone 50. So boys and girls, don’t try this at home.

What about the cost of living? Is it expensive to live in Savannah? People are moving to Savannah, Georgia in droves. My team assists people that are relocating to the area. We’ve seen a huge uptick in business since mid 2020, and this is for a variety of reasons.

The weather is number one. Maybe they just want to live somewhere warm and they don’t want to shovel their driveway ever, ever, ever again. Maybe they’re tired of dealing with awful traffic or they’re tired of insanely expensive property taxes. And quite possibly, they don’t want to live in an overly restrictive area that’s telling them where they can go and when they can go there and what they need to be wearing when they go in there. Or is that just me?

Let’s do a quick cost of living analysis. If I go to nerdwallet.com’s cost of living calculator, I can see exactly how Savannah, Georgia stacks up against other cities. Let’s say that you live in San Francisco right now and you make $150,000 a year. (You need that to live in San Francisco, I’m just saying.) You literally need to make less than half that to have the same standard of living that you enjoy now, which ain’t much, let’s be honest. I used to live just outside of San Francisco and between the insanely high cost of housing, gas prices, taxes, and traffic, it’s just becoming increasingly more unaffordable and less appealing to live there.

The cost of living here is less than Evansville, Indiana, less than Newark, New Jersey, less than Albany, New York, and less than Cleveland, Ohio. As of late December 2021, the median home price for a single family home in Chatham County, which includes Savannah, Tybee Island and Pooler, and a few other areas, was roughly $350,000 for a 2,000 square foot house. Prices have definitely gone up in the past year and a half, but still compared to other parts of the country, it’s extremely affordable.

Now let’s talk about what there is to do here in Savannah. Savannah is a tourist destination, not only because of the beach, but also because we have such a rich history here. The city was founded in 1733 and as you wander around downtown in the historic district, it really shows. There are cobblestone streets and buildings that are hundreds of years old.

There are charming squares throughout the downtown area and because the city is so picturesque, a lot of Hollywood movies are filmed here. The iconic bus bench scene in Forrest Gump was filmed right here in Savannah, as were other classics, such as Magic Mike 2 and some movie that Miley Cyrus made about rescuing turtles or something.

On any given Saturday night, you will probably see bachelorette parties galore happening in Savannah. And that is probably because of our open container policy. Now you may be shocked to hear that considering that we live in the Bible Belt, but the days of prohibition are long gone. Nowadays, you can carry an open container as long as it’s in a plastic cup, not a can, not a glass bottle, and not a flask. So belly up to the bar, ask for your drink in a red solo cup and off you go.

Now you must remain within the confines of the historic district, but this goes from River Street to Jones Street, from West Broad all the way to Martin Luther King. This is basically the entire downtown tourist district.

There are tons of tours that you can take here. There’s a hop on/hop off trolley tour, which is a lot of fun. As your tour guide is telling you about something interesting, you just hop off the trolley so that you can hang out and explore a little bit. Then the next time the trolley comes by, you just jump back on and you go until the next stop.

Savannah has a reputation as being one of the most haunted cities in America. This is probably due to the fact that when the yellow fever epidemic hit in the 1800s, so many people died from yellow fever that they were just buried anywhere that they could find a spot for them. As you take one of these tours around downtown, you’ll learn all about this and why our city is considered so spooky. The visitsavannah.com website has a great roundup of the six most haunted places in Savannah that you can actually visit. You can even take a tour in a hearse if looking for ghosts is kind of your thing.

Let’s talk about the vibe here in Savannah, the pace of life and all of the things. Atlanta is an enormous city. Atlanta has millions of people and crazy amounts of traffic. It is definitely a major metropolitan area. Savannah, not so. Savannah is a city, but it is not a major city. It is small. There are things to do here, but the traffic is pretty much non-existent except right at rush hour. And even then, it’s nothing compared to Atlanta or any other major city.

The pace of life here is very relaxed. It’s like people are on vacation all the time. People hardly ever get dressed up here. A sun dress and flip-flops or a Hawaiian shirt and your fancy cargo shorts are considered getting dressed up to go out to dinner. Very rarely do you see people dressed to the nines when they go out for a night on the town. There will be a lot of traffic heading out to the beach in the summertime on the weekends. If you are not out at the beach by 11:00 AM, don’t even bother going, at least until dinner time. Seriously, the traffic will be backed up at one in the afternoon from Tybee Island well into Wilmington Island and maybe onto Whitemarsh Island. You will sit in that traffic for hours because there’s not that much place to park when you get out to the beach. And if you’re not there first thing in the morning, it’s not even worth going. So consider yourself forewarned. Be at the beach by 10:30 in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday in the high season in order to find a parking spot and not want to tear your hair out because you sat in traffic.

Are there sharks at the beach? Actually, there’s a lot more dolphins. Dolphins will be swimming right past where all of the people are in the water swimming, and they’ll start screaming and run out of the water, thinking they are sharks, but then they’ll see that these are beautiful dolphins. So we do get a lot of dolphins out at the beach. I suppose there are sharks swimming in the ocean, that is their natural habitat, but I personally have never seen one.

The more likely threat at the ocean is jellyfish. There are certain times of the year when we will get jellyfish, and getting stung by a jellyfish is not fun.

Next up, alligators. Yes, there are alligators living in the area. I myself have a pond on my property and there is a four-foot alligator living in the pond. Alligators like fresh water, so they’re not swimming around in the ocean at the beach. They typically hang out in the marshes, rivers, lakes, and ponds.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, there are roughly 250,000 gators present in the state of Georgia. We get a lot of them in the Savannah area because we have a lot of water here, so they can be swimming in a creek, get out, walk through the woods and then drop down into the pond behind my house, for example. But I’ve never seen them wandering loose in a neighborhood. It’s not like your children are riding bikes through the neighborhood and they have to keep slamming on their brakes because gators are crossing the street every five minutes. It’s not like that. But do be smart, assume that any body of water, other than the ocean, will have alligators living in it.

Do not feed the gators. Do not encourage them to stick around by giving them a food source and do not take your beloved chihuahua for a walk right along the water’s edge. We do not want Fido to become a tasty snack for an alligator. If you are considering moving to the Savannah area, be sure to download our Savannah Relocation Guide and let us help make your upcoming move easier!

About the Author: The article above was provided by Karin Carr, an authority on Savannah area real estate and a leader in the field of real estate blogging and vlogging.  Karin has helped literally helped hundreds of families buy and sell homes since 2005.  

Looking to buy a home in the Savannah area?  Check out our virtual reality home buying program.  It’s free of charge and will save you a ton of time and gas money!

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We help people buy and sell real estate in the following Savannah areas:  Rincon, Guyton, Pooler, Richmond Hill, Savannah, Tybee Island, and the islands. We also service Hilton Head, Bluffton, and Beaufort SC.

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